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Historic, archived document 

Do not assume content reflects current 
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. 

bgaed June 23, 1910. 


A. D. MBLVIX, Chibp of Bukbav. 


By C. F. DOANK, 
Assistant Dairyman, Dairy Division. 

The practicability of making whey butter as a by-product in Cheddar 
or American cheese factories has hitherto received but little con- 
sideration. A few attempts to manufacture whey butter have been 
made at different times, but apparently not with satisfactory results, 
and they have generally been given up at the end of the first season. 
Exception may be made, however' in the case of a company that was 
organized about two years ago in the State of New York for making 
whey butter on a plan modeled after the centralizer system. To 
carry this out a number of cheese factories were equipped with power 
and separators and the cream was collected by wagon, hauled to a 
central point, and churned. 

For more than a year the Dairy Division has been interested in 
this subject and it has conducted an experiment under practical con- 
ditions. The plant used was a purely local affair, intended to take 
care of the whey and cream of but one factory. This factory, sit- 
uated in Wisconsin, received a maximum daily run of 16,700 pounds 
of milk, which is above the average. In other respects it would be 
considered a good average factory with a maker who was looking 
out for the yield of cheese and for the best interests of the factory 


The plant which was installed for the work of making the butter 
proved satisfactory in every way. The factory already had a boiler 
and a 5-horsepower engine. A gasoline engine would be just as 
effective. The remainder of the equipment consisted of a tank for 
whey, capacity 12,000 pounds ; a separator, capacity 3,500 pounds per 
hour; a combined churn and worker, butter capacity 100 pounds; 
42929— Clr. 161—10 


and a rotary pump, with a capacity of 4,000 pounds per hour. There 
were besides a few smaller pieces of apparatus, including a small 
butter print, butter paddles, a packer, tin pails, and spouting to 
carry the whey from the cheese vats to the large receiving vat. 

A room containing about 250 square feet of floor space is suffi- 
cient to hold all the machinery and the receiving tank. This room 
does not necessarily have to be of the best construction, but the floor 
should be tight, so that it can be scrubbed without dripping through. 
In addition to this main making room there should be refrigerator 
space large enough to hold a small quantity of butter and a large 
ean of cream. A building for storing ice is also needed. 


A second-hand separator was secured for our purpose and made as 
good as new for $300. Other items were: Churn, $125; tank, $45; 
pimip, $25 ; small items, $25 ; line shaft, pulleys, and labor, $50. 

The equipment purchased for this factory cost about $800. This 
sum, however, does not represent the total equipment, as the factory 
already had the room, boiler, and engine. Where room and power 
are not already available the plant would cost approximately from 
$1,000 to $1,200. A portion of this cost should not be charged up 
wholly against the butter equipment. The engine could be used for 
operating mechanical agitators, which are labor savers and well 
worth the cost of installing in large factories, while the ice house 
and refrigerator could easily be worth their cost as an accommodation 
to the patrons and the family of the cheesemaker. 


The amount of butter made is calculated on the basis of the amount 
of milk delivered — so many pounds of butter for each 1,000 pounds of 
milk. Some extravagant statements have been made in news items 
in regard to the yield of butter from whey. According to reliable in- 
formation from the New York company previously mentioned which 
promoted this industry, the best factory secured an average of 3 
pounds of butter to 1,000 pounds of milk delivered. This factory 
was unusually careful to save every part of the fat possible. The 
factory in which our experiment was conducted made almost exactly 
3 pounds of butter to 1,000 pounds of milk delivered. The yield of 
butter for different months varies within comparatively wide limits. 
For June the yield was 2| pounds of butter per 1,000 pounds of milk, 
while for October it was 3^ pounds. The variation for days is even 
greater. The yield in a day has fallen as low as 2 pounds and gone 
as high as 5 pounds, of butter to 1,000 pounds of milk. The cheese 
was made up at this factory in the same way as adopted by most fac- 

[Clr. 161] 


tones, and there was nothing in the methods that should increase or 
decrease the percentage of fat in the whey over or under the average 
cheese factory. 

To secure the maximum yield it is necessary to save the drippings 
from the milled curd, otherwise a large part of the butterfat would be 
lost. The writer has noted one instance where there were 58 pounds 
of whey dripped from the milled curd of a 5,000-pound vat of milL 
This tested 11 per cent of fat. In the ordinary way of making cheese 
an average leakage from the milled curd of a vat of 5,000 pounds of 
milk would be about 40 pounds, testing about 8 per cent of fat. 


In most of the Swiss-cheese factories the whey is run into old 
tanks which are poorly cared for and where it is allowed to stand 
until the fat has risen to the top. This practice is of course to be 
condemned. In making whey butter it is the best practice to run 
the whey directly from the vats to a thoroughly sanitary tank, 
and it should be separated with as little delay as possible. In a 
large factouy the separators can be started as soon as the first whey 
is drawn from the vat. It will usually be found necessary to use a 
pump for elevating the whey from the tank to the separator, in 
which case a pump that is easily cleaned is very desirable. Where 
there is much whey to separate a separator with a large capacity 
should be used. From our work it is apparent that any separator 
which will skim milk satisfactorily is also good for whey. 


■No peculiar diflSculties present themselves in churning. Naturally 
a very small portion of cream is received in proportion to the volume 
of whey running through the separator, and the cream can be churned 
as soon as it is separated if so desired. It is believed that from 20 
to 30 per cent of starter added improves the flavor. This starter 
should be milk which has been allowed to sour. The whey cream 
may be allowed to stand a day before churning and the sour starter 
can be added the evening before. The starter in all cases should be 
sour and thick before it is put into the cream, otherwise it would 
be thickened by the rennet and the resulting curd would hold a large 
portion of the fat and carry it into the buttermilk. 

The cream should be churned at a little lower temperature than 
cream from milk. The Wisconsin factory where our work was car- 
ried on churned below 50° F. at all times and much of the time at 
45 degrees. The cream was cRurned until the butter granules were 
the size of a grain of corn, when it was washed with cold water, 
salted at the rate of 1 ounce of salt to a pound of butter, and worked. 

[Clr. 161] 



The butter made from whey is good for table use — much better, in 
fact, than a' large part of the butter sold to the retail trade. How- 
ever, the drippings from the milled curd give the butter a character- 
istic flavor which is difficult to describe. This flavor brings down the 
theoretical score somewhat, but does not seem to injure the butter for 
table use. Were it not for the whey from the milled curd it is prob- 
able that an expert could not distinguish whey butter from the best 
creamery butter, but such a large portion of the fat is in this whey 
from the milled curd that it would be wasteful not to save it. Whey 
butter is apparently a little softer than the regular creamery butter, 
but a number of tests showed that this was not due to excessive 

The butter made in our experimental work was sold partly to 
patrons of the factory and local dealers, the remainder being shipped 
to the Chicago market. That sold to the local trade brought a little 
less than the best creamery butter, while the portion shipped sold 
for from 2 to 3 cents under the regular price for creamery butter. 
A few people professed not to like the whey butter, and there was 
and is considerable prejudice manifested against it, which is abso- 
lutely groundless. It is, in fact, very probable that the milk coming 
to the ordinary cheese factory is purer than the milk delivered to the 
average creamery in the United States. 

The whey butter made in the New York factories has been selling 
in the eastern markets along with the regular creamery butter. But- 
ter made from whey should be sold as " whey butter," and not simply 
as " butter." The butter made in the Wisconsin factory was sold as 
whey butter. 


In our experimental work a careful account was kept of the butter 
made, the price received, and the expenditures. The expenses were as 

follows : 

Repairs $25 

Ice 40 

Interest on investment 40 

Depreciation at 10 per cent .' 80 

on 5 

Salt 7 

Belts 9 

Butter paper for pound prints 9 

Total 215 

Coal, IJ cents per pound of butter made. 
Labor, 2i cents per pound of butter made. 
[Clr. 161] 


The cost of repairs, interest, and depreciation would be approx- 
imately the same for a factory of any size, while the cost of fuel and 
labor per pound of butter can be calculated for any other factory. 
The butter sold at an average of about 20 cents a pound. 

A factory with a maximum daily run of 10,000 pounds would re- 
ceive about 2,000,000 pounds of milk in a year; this would, on the 
basis of 3 pounds of butter for each 1,000 pounds of milk, make 6,000 
pounds of butter which would have sold, on the basis above mentioned, 
for $1,200. Allowing one-half of the gross income to the farmers, as 
is the case at the Wisconsin factory, there would remain $600. From 
this must be deducted fixed charges, as calculated above, of $215, and 
the charge for labor and fuel of 3J cents a pound on 6,000 pounds, 
which amounts to $210. The total charges would therefore amovmt to 
$426, and the year's profit for a factory of this size would consequently 
be $175. 

There are, however, a number of things to be considered. First, 
it should be stated that the labor connected with the experimental 
work was performed by the regular help except for two .months, 
when a man was hired who would probably have been hired any way 
for one month. In fact, except in factories where the help can barely 
take care of the milk at the flush of the season, the regular help could 
handle the extra labor involved in making whey butter, as the work 
comes when there is not a rush with the cheese. It is probable, also, 
that the future will see a lessening of the popular prejudice and a 
greater development of the local market, which would result in better 
prices being realized by the factories for the butter. 

It seems, therefore, that in factories having a maximum- nm of 
10,000 pounds or more, the making of whey butter should be a profit- 
able undertaking for both the factory and the farmer ; but factories 
whose runs are considerably smaller than this would not be justified 
in undertaking the making of whey butter unless there is some dif- 
ferent arrangement made for collecting the cream and churning, or 
unless the farmers are willing to take less than half the gross returns. 
Whatever the farmers realize from their whey butter is practically 
clear gain to them, and if they would take one-third of the gross 
income, a factory with, say, a maximimi daily run of 7,500 pounds 
could make whey butter at a profit. 

As the business is at present established in New York, the farmer, 
the cheese factory, and the company operating the central churning 
plant each get one-third of the gross income. The central churning 
plant furnishes separators to the factories and stands the expense of 
collecting the cream. The Wisconsin factory, as before stated, gives 
the farmer one-half. It is, therefore, apparent that the plan adopted 
in New York is more advantageous to the smaller cheese factories, 
as the fixed charges and the labor are reduced to a minimum. 

[Cfr. 161] 



This should be a matter of more than passing interest to farmers 
who deliver milk to the cheese factories and get the whey in return. 
There is, of course, considerable feeding value in whey, but, contrary 
to the opinion of some farmers, the fat contributes but little to this 
value, as it is present in such a small proportion. In other words, the 
whey would be nearly if not quite as valuable as a feed after the fat 
had been removed. If, therefore, this fat can be used to make butter 
on a profit-sharing basis between the farmer and the factory, there 
should be little difficulty in arriving at an understanding whereby 
this waste of a valuable product may be turned into a mutual benefit. 

In the factories making Swiss cheese the loss of fat in the whey 
is comparatively high, and there is always an attempt made to save 
a portion of it to make butter for domestic use. But the loss of fat 
in making American cheese has never been considered great enough 
to warrant any attempt to recover it. As the whey has usually been 
kept in very insanitary tanks, most of this fat has appeared on the 
top as a dark, filthy mass that soUed the milk cans and was usually 
skimmed off and thrown away. Even if allowed to remain in the 
whey it was, as before stated, of little feeding value. 


The average composition of cow's milk in the cheese districts where 
cows are bred for milk instead of butterfat, and the average compo- 
sition of whey, are about as follows : 

Average composition of cow's milk {for cheese making) and whey. 




Per cent. 



Milk is commonly regarded as a complete food. In the making of 
cheese most of the casein and fat go to form the cheese, but the 
other constituents of the milk do not enter into the cheese, except as 
they are held in suspension or solution in the whey which remains in 
the cheese. Of this the fat can be seen to be a very small portion. 
Calculating on the basis of the market value of food constituents, the 
albumen, being the protein of the whey, would have a cash value 
five times greater than the fat, and the milk sugar would be worth 
many times the value of the fat. In view of this the oft-repeated 

[Clr. 161] 


objection on the part of the farmer that skimmed whey has no feed- 
ing value is erroneous. The removal of the fat, which makes up 
such a small percentage of the whey, in fact makes no perceptible 
difference in the value of the whey. 

While it is true that the quantity of butterf at in whey is small and 
may not appear to be worth consideration, when the loss from one 
factory for a year is considered it amounts to a considerable sum of 
money. The cheese factory in which the Dairy Division has been 
interested paid to the farmers about $1,000 for their share of the 
butter in one year, and this sum is of course practically a clear gain 
to the farmers. In addition to this gain the patrons of the cheese 
factory can buy the butter at a lower price than they can buy 
creamery butter shipped in and retailed from local stores. 

In view of these facts the writer is decidedly of the opinion that 
it is to the best interests of the farmer for the cheese factories to 
make whey butter where the factory receives sufficient milk to war- 
rant the expenditure for necessary space and machinery. 


1. Whey butter can be made in American cheese factories at a 
profit to both factory owner and farmer. 

2. In a factory receiving a maximum flow of milk of 10,000 or 
more pounds a day some profit should be made after giving one-half 
of the gross returns to the farmer. 

3. Very little of the feeding value is removed from the whey in 
skiioming, so that the farmer gets larger returns from the butter sold 
than when the fat is fed to hogs or calves. 

Approved : 

James Wilson, 

Secretary of Agriculture. 

Washington, D. C, April 2, 1910.